BEREA: If Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson wasn’t already determined to bounce back from his disappointing NFL debut, he certainly is now.
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga ensured it by saying there was “nothing spectacular” about Richardson’s performance in the Browns’ 17-16 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns (0-1) will visit the Bengals (0-1) Sunday.
“I prove people wrong all the time,” Richardson said Thursday when asked about Maualuga’s jab. “So we’ll see Sunday.”
In an interview with Paul Dehner Jr. of CBSSports.com, Maualuga gave Richardson some bulletin-board material.
“He can run you over and you can miss a tackle,” Maualuga said. “At the same time, from what we’ve seen, he didn’t do nothing spectacular. From running screens, missing passes, trying to find a hole when he’s running the ball, he just didn’t do anything spectacular from what I’ve seen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to want to get after it once he plays us.”
Richardson was well aware of the quote, which was published Wednesday.
“I laugh at stuff like that,” he said. “I ain’t got to have a debate about my game. I’ll just show him on Sunday. I think it’s funny. Somebody can try to talk about my game. I give all the glory to him. I believe in what he says — I’ve still got stuff to prove. And so Sunday we’re gonna see what’s happening.”
Richardson said Maualuga’s comments will fuel him.
“It’s a motivation, but at the same time, I don’t listen to none of that stuff,” Richardson said. “I’m always motivated when I’m on the field anyway. We’re not on the same team, so that’s the big motivation right there.”
Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, rushed for only 39 yards on 19 carries (2.1 average) against the Eagles. He looked rusty after missing all four preseason games because he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9.
Still, Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress is confident Richardson will be fine.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Childress said. “It’ll just be a matter of when. It’s not a matter of if. He’ll continue to be a good player.”
Ready to start
Is there any possibility Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden isn’t ready to start yet? Childress doesn’t believe so.
“I don’t feel that way,” Childress said. “I don’t think he cowered in the face of it. I thought he had a good demeanor during the course of the game.”
Weeden completed just 12-of-35 passes for 118 yards with four interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 5.1. Childress, though, had an explanation for each turnover and defended Weeden.
“I don’t feel like it’s too big for him,” Childress said. “You’re gonna throw interceptions. I think the first pick in the draft [Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck] threw three.”
Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, also fumbled twice against the Eagles. Fortunately for the Browns, they recovered both.
“It’s a sack of gold,” Childress said. “You’ve got to lock it up in the pocket now.”
Childress said the coaching staff must help Weeden bounce back.
“That’s usually the quarterback coach’s job — that’s usually part father confessor, part psychiatrist, hug him, help him up off the floor,” Childress said. “That’s what happens in that quarterback room, and that’s a weekly deal.
“You just prop him back up. Getting him back on the horse — I think that’s the biggest thing. I’d worry about him if — I’ve said this before to you guys — he didn’t keep shooting. You’ve got to keep shooting. You can’t all of the sudden kind of go into the fetal position.”
Weeden vowed to remain aggressive.
“Oh, yeah, I’m taking shots,” Weeden said. “Don’t worry about that. I’m taking shots.”
Pleased with debut
Not only did defensive tackle Billy Winn start his NFL debut Sunday, but he also played more than any other Browns rookie on defense.
Winn, a sixth-round selection, was on the field for 65 of the Browns’ 95 defensive plays (68 percent). By comparison, rookie defensive tackle John Hughes, a third-round pick, played 31 snaps (33 snaps).
“It’s exciting,” Winn said. “You go out there at this level and to be able to start a game, it felt great.”
In Week 1, Winn got off to a promising start. He tackled Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for a loss of 6 yards during the first play from scrimmage.
“I went out there and the first play of the game, it was a screen,” said Winn, who finished with two tackles. “I was able to rally to the ball and get my hands on him. It felt great to have my name called over the intercom.”
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said “it’s never a good thing” for the Browns to play without Joe Haden. The Browns won’t have Haden for the next four games, because he’ll be serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Jauron, though, doesn’t believe the trickle-down effect will cause him to call fewer blitzes.
“I’m going to say no,” Jauron said. “We like to think we pressure enough, but we’re not a huge blitz team, certainly not an all-out blitz team. But it wouldn’t affect the way we call a game.”
Rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique) and safety Ray Ventrone (hand) did not practice Thursday. Johnson will likely miss his second consecutive game.
Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas (knee) continued to be limited in practice. Thomas had his left knee wrapped.
Wide receivers Josh Cribbs (knee) and Josh Gordon (knee) surfaced on the injury report, but both fully participated in practice.
When asked about the Bengals’ offensive line, Browns defensive end Juqua Parker said: “They’re pretty decent. They’re not great, but they’re decent.” … According to the NFL, the Browns are the shortest (6-foot-1.1), lightest (242.6 pounds), youngest (25.55 years old) and least experienced team (3.25 years) in the AFC.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.